Teddi King, Pop and Jazz Songstress

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A short career introduction to Teddi King

American jazz and pop singer Teddi King started her road to a singing career by first winning a competition under the wings of Dinah Shore who hosted the show in Teddi’s hometown in Boston. Eventually she began performing for the soldiers in WW II and the Korean war, and first did her first recordings with Nat Pierce in 1949, and for Beryl Brooker trio among other groups King had collaborated. In the 1950s she began recording under RCA Records, and from there King scored hits such as Mr. Wonderful at #18 in the 1956 Billboard charts, “Married I Can Always Get” (at #75 also in 1956) and “Say It Isn’t So” (at #98 in 1957). She continued recording (that includes the critically acclaimed LP All The Kings’ Songs in 1959) and performing in live gigs despite suffering from lupus later in her life. Eventually she died of the disease in 1977, aged 48.

Teddi King’s early life and career

Traditional pop and jazz singer Teddi King was born Theodora King in Boston, Massachusetts on September 18, 1929. Following her graduation from high school, King almost immidiatedly branched off into singing and performing at the Tributary Theater of Boston. King later won a singing competition hosted by none other than Dinah Shore at the same venue.

Winning at the competition opened more doors for King; immediately she went on to work in a touring revue where one of her responsibilities was cheering up the soldiers “in the lull between the Second World War and the Korean conflict” (according to AllMusic.com). During this period King further honed her singing and piano techniques. In 1949 first did a record with jazz pianist and arranger Nat Pierce, then moved on to record with other artists including the Beryl Booker Trio and several other groups during the early-to-mid-1950s. Aside from that, she also toured and recorded with British jazz pianist George Shearing during about the same period. Like many other performers and entertainers, King also performed at Las Vegas.

King’s successful recording career

She released her debut albumStoryville Presents Teddi King (1954), which was followed by Now in Vogue (1955), both released on Storyville label. Then she moved to RCA Records where she relesed three LPs:Bidin’ My Time (1956), A Girl and Her Songs (1957) and To You From Teddy King (1957).

Around her time at RCA, she also achieved a handful of chart hits. Her highest charting single was “Mr. Wonderful” which peaked at #18 on the Billboard pop chart in 1956.

King’s other charting singles were minor hits: “Married I Can Always Get” (#75 pop in 1956) and “Say It Isn’t So” (#98 in 1957).

Her album on Coral label All the King’s Songs (1959) was especially rated highly by critics, mostly due to her interpretation of popular songs by the “kings” such as Nat King Cole and Frank Sinatra. She also performed at the self-owned Playboy Club during the 1960s.

King’s later career, death and legacy

Despite King’s success (or because of it), most jazz critics would love to pan her by diminishing her ties to the genre. However, she went on, despite developing lupus in her later years. Just before her death, King even managed to mount a brief comeback with an LP with another jazz pianist David McKenna. She eventually died on November 18, 1977 from complications of lupus. She was 48 years old.

After King’s death, benefit concerts have been produced in her name to raise awareness for lupus and support for lupus research.

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